09/10/09 12:03 AM ET
Nationals rally, but Phillies snap late tie
Washington laments lack of production in clutch spots
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
This time, Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard was on the mound with the game tied at 4 and gave up back-to back home runs to Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz in the eighth to give the Phillies a two-run lead.
"Clippard wasn't locating his fastball," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He has taken the ball and has done a good job, but the last couple of nights, he hasn't been able to locate the fastball and has paid for it."
But don't blame Clippard for this loss. Take a look at the Nationals' offense. It had plenty of chances to score more than five runs. In fact, Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn each left three runners on base.
"I had runners in scoring position in every single at-bat," Dunn said. "I had a chance to drive in some runs. I got some pitches to hit and I should have capitalized on them."
The Nationals tried to make a comeback in the bottom of the eighth, but came up a run short. The bases were loaded with no outs when Chan Ho Park replaced starter Cliff Lee.
Willie Harris flied out to Werth in right. Pete Orr followed and hit a sacrifice fly to left, sending Zimmerman home. Wil Nieves entered as a pinch-hitter and grounded out to first baseman Ryan Howard to end the inning.
In the ninth inning with Ryan Madson on the mound, the Nationals had a chance to tie the score, but Justin Maxwell was caught napping. Maxwell was on second with one out. Dunn came to the plate and lined out to second baseman Chase Utley, who was able to double up Maxwell at second to end the game.
Maxwell thought the ball was going to drop in for a base hit.
"I'm trying to score for the team. I froze on the line drive with less than two outs. It's something I could learn from," Maxwell said. "I saw a line drive and tried to score."
Said Madson: "Sometimes luck plays a factor and I was on the winning side. I haven't thrown a lot against Dunn. I was trying to surprise him and that's what happens when you try to surprise somebody. You don't really trust it, and it cut all the way across. It jammed him a little bit, just enough and it all worked out."
Lee started for Philadelphia and lasted seven-plus innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on 10 hits.
The Nationals were able to get to Lee in the first, when Dunn singled to center to drive in Guzman. However, starter Garrett Mock couldn't hold the lead as Philadelphia scored three runs in the top of the second. Werth highlighted the scoring with an RBI single.
Philadelphia made it a 4-1 game in the fifth, when Howard scored all the way from first on a double by Raul Ibanez.
Mock, who lasted five innings and gave up four runs, has not looked good in his past two outings. He has kept the ball up most of the time.
"Mock took a little step backwards. Again, the Phillies are very good club and he kept us in the game," Riggleman said. "But he is better than that. He is better than what he threw tonight. We know it's in there."
In the fifth, the Nats added two runs to make it a one-run game. With one out, Guzman hit a slow roller to Lee. Guzman was thrown out, but Alberto Gonzalez scored on the play. Dunn was the next hitter and singled home Maxwell.
In the seventh, the Nationals had runners on first and third with no outs, but could only score one run. After Maxwell struck out, Guzman hit into a force play, but Gonzalez scored on the play to tie the game at 4.
"We had first and third, no outs. We had bases loaded and no outs and each time, we scored only one run out of that, so that came back to haunt us," Riggleman said. "It's not because of a lack of effort.
"Again, I'm glad [we have runners on base]. We got ourselves in position to have big innings and Lee was able to give up one run instead of two or three runs. That really cost us. We have to get more runs out of those."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.